The Current State of Democracy in Venezuela

In 2014, frequent protests against Nicolas Maduro’s government started in response to the high levels of inflation, shortage, insecurity and violence in Venezuela. It was on February 1st, when the Venezuelan opposition leader began to reiterate its invitation for people to demonstrate against the situation. He convoked everyone to a peaceful march on February 12th, The National Youth Day.

Opposition’s Leader Arrested and Jailed

The marches of February 12th of 2014 were planned in Caracas city with massive assistance from Venezuelan students, meanwhile, the government organized another march in Caracas to celebrate Youth Day, so the moment both peaceful demonstrations came to an end, several outbreaks of violence broke out around the city, causing damages to some public institutions like the Public Ministry’s headquarters and public goods. There was also armed clashes, leaving many students seriously injured, one of them was Robert Redman, who was attacked and killed by an unknown group, and Bassil Da Costa, who died in the hospital after having been wounded by a gun shot to the head.

On that same day, Dr. Ralenis J. Tovar Guillen, the Sixteenth Court Judge, issued an arrest warrant for Venezuela’s opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, on charges including incitement to crime, public intimidation, fire in a public building, damage to public property, homicide, incitement to riot and terrorism. A year later, judge Susana Barreiro, sentenced the Venezuelan opposition leader to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in prison after having been found guilty of public property damages, incitement to crime, arson and conspiracy.

Immediate Backlash

This measure taken by the Venezuelan justice system has received widespread international criticism, for instance, some USAN (Union of South American Nations) members such as Peru, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, issued a statement expressing their concern about the situation and the non-compliance of constitutional norms in the judicial process against Leopoldo Lopez.

According to the number two article of the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, this country is a Democratic and Social State of Law and Justice which promotes values such as life, freedom, equality, solidarity, democracy, social responsibility, the preeminence of human rights and political pluralism. Since the adoption of this constitution in 1999, Venezuela has shown an exemplary democratic vocation through the wide popular participation and subsequent elections.

The World is Watching

Nevertheless, it is also important to say that some of the most relevant democracy values, such as freedom and political pluralism, have been gravely affected by actions like the sentencing of an opposition leader who has been convicted because of their political thoughts and opinion. On the other hand, the political partiality in the actions and decisions taken by the Supreme Court of Venezuela and other government organisms, for instance, is another thing which is debilitating the democratic balance.

Considering each of these aspects, the Venezuelan democracy has another new opportunity to show everyone how strong it is, and it’s desire to change, in the upcoming elections on December 6th 2015 when people will be able to elect each of the members of the National Assembly who will exercise the legislative power in Venezuela.

About Jhonny Rivero

Jhonny is a 24-year-old social science teacher at an educational institute in Venezuela. He works as a freelance writer with experience in writing articles for blogs and websites. He’s also a singer and a multi–instrumentalist musician. Jhonny enjoys working as a writer and also creating music, and he is currently studying English at the British Council of Venezuela.

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